Andrew Lloyd-Webber has had a string of hits in London's West End and on Broadway in New York. Photo: AFP/File
entertainment

Andrew Lloyd-Webber vows to defy gov't on London theater reopening

19 Comments

Theater impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber said in an interview published Wednesday he is prepared to be arrested if the British government does not lift all coronavirus restrictions.

All measures are due to be eased on June 21 but there is increasing concern the move could be delayed because of rising infection rates in some parts of the country.

Lloyd-Webber, who has had a string of hits in London's West End and on Broadway in New York, said postponement would be another blow for the hard-hit entertainment industry.

The "Cats" and "Evita" composer has been among the loudest voices in the sector calling for theaters to reopen in full, insisting they are "completely safe" for the public.

Lloyd-Webber is putting on his first musical in six years, "Cinderella", next month, and said whatever happens, "we are going to open, come hell or high water".

Asked by The Daily Telegraph what he would do if the government postponed the lifting of restrictions, he said: "We will say: 'Come to the theater and arrest us'."

He also promised to either sue the government or demand compensation if his new show could not open, outlining the huge financial burden of closures.

It is costing £1 million ($1.4 million) a month to keep his six theaters closed and he has remortgaged his central London house to finance his business, he added.

He also said there was a "real risk" of having to sell some of his theaters if reopening was postponed.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said he "completely sympathized" with Lloyd-Webber's plight and said the government wanted to get theaters reopened.

"I know that people are desperate to go to them, tickets are selling fast for all those productions because people have been away too long," he told Sky News television.

"But you have just got a few more days to wait until the judgment that the prime minister (Boris Johnson) is going to make on the basis of the data."

A decision on lifting all social distancing measures is expected next week.

© 2021 AFP

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

19 Comments
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That awkward moment when you realize alpha gays are anti-mask and anti-vaxx too.

-11 ( +1 / -12 )

What is an "alpha gay"?

Where in this article does it say that Webber is anti-mask or anti-vaxx?

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Andrew Lloyd Webber, married three times, all to women. Not an anti-vaxxer. Quite the opposite. He wants vaccinated people to return to the theatres.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

I hope he does it too, the doctatorship is a joke now

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

He can take to the rooftops like The Phantom of the Opera.

wonder if the Met cops will arrive on day 1 to forcibly shut them down and arrest staff

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

You sure that isn't the wax dummy at Mdme. Toussard's? He doesn't look a day over enbalmed.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

He is as subject to the law as I am. This is just special pleading for his own little segment of the economy as grandstanding. I also look forward to when theatres and other venues open fully but that does not mean they should be opened too early, causing an existing spike in infections to become worse.

This is very irresponsible of him and not to put too fine a point on it, selfish.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The theatres need to reopen and let people get their jobs back. They can be opened to the fully vaccinated and those with a test. There have been concerts, like in Liverpool. 6,000 concertgoers who had to show they were tested. No covid cases from that.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Its funny how a mortgage will make a public health specialist out of a pianist ...

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

This Delta strain is picking up pace in Britain because people are letting their guards down prematurely, and this guy is recklessly encouraging that in order to try and save an outdated, dying art form. I get it, he wants to keep theatre alive, but you don't do that by risking a third wave and a third lockdown. Why is it only the adults who are the most impatient? Children do as they're told, adults do whatever the heck they want and damn the consequences.

I live and work in North Wales. We have the Delta strain over here thanks to tourists and it is spreading. This is in a very rural area, so I dread to think what'll happen if it pops up in a city. The vaccination might protect against the Delta strain FOR NOW, but how long until that, or another strain, mutates to become resistant to the vaccine? It's only a matter of time given how many mutant strains have cropped up so far, and in such a short time too. If we're not careful, there will be a strain that doesn't get affected by the current vaccines, and then the pandemic will pick up like wildfire all over again. How many millions more have to die because of selfish people? I've lost friends and family to this virus already. Stop asking me and millions of people like me to sacrifice more. That's not fair. That's not Human.

insisting they are "completely safe" for the public.

You don't know that. You can't see the future, and I know for damn sure that you know nothing about Virology. You just want to go back to lining your pockets and you don't care how many die in the process. I think it's time you tried seeing how the 99% live, especially during a pandemic, and get back in touch with reality.

The theatres need to reopen

No they don't. They are not an essential service. There is no need for them to reopen at all. The Theatre is just a very small, very esoteric branch of entertainment that appeals virtually exclusively to the Upper Class, and to a handful of Middle Class. The majority of Middle Class people, and the Working Class, couldn't care less about theatre. It holds no interest, it just reminds us that this is the sort of thing that rich people enjoy. There are plenty of job openings in ESSENTIAL businesses if these people are legitimately in need of employment. The fact that they can pick and choose means that they're not in any financial difficulties, ergo they're not amongst the Working Class, probably not amongst the Middle Class either. We don't have that kind of luxury down here at the bottom of the economic food chain. The pandemic has been brutal upon us and things really aren't easing up. If anything, reopening non-essential businesses has only increased the strain upon us, and it's allowed the Delta strain to start going nuts in various parts of Britain. Theatres don't need to reopen, not ever again, frankly. They don't contribute to society, they make very little contribution to the national economy. All they do is entertain the 1%, and let's face it: the rich and famous have no shortage of entertainment options. Theatres can stay closed. We don't need them, and we'd be better off without yet another potential virus-spreader being added to the list.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Fox Sora Winters

Theatres are not just for the rich or middle class. Worked in theatres for years. There are many levels of theatres, concerts, entertainments.

Look at the Edinburgh Festival when millions visit. In 2019, 3 million people visited the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

There many hundreds of thousands of people who work in theatres and festivals. Normal working-class people covering a very wide range of trades. 

Then there are the professionals like musicians in orchestras or lighting and sound engineers. A brother in NY is a sound engineer who this month has got his first gig in more than one year.

My youngest brother has worked at the Rome Opera House for more than 30 years. Stagehand. Unable to work since the pandemic.

It was shown that concerts can open to vaccinated people or those having a test first.

You somehow expect these hundreds of thousands of workers to find other forms of work because you consider their jobs to be non-essential.

Do you list to music or watch TV, watch a movie? They are all non-essential.

There are local theatre groups up and down the country who perform shows.

Sports are another area you could call non-essential.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Fox Sora Winters

I live and work in North Wales.

A big part of my childhood and Anglesey too. Nana born in Denbigh.

I've lost friends and family to this virus already.

Sorry for your loss. 30 million fully vaccinated. 42.8%.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@zichi

And what do you want to say with those numbers?

In order to achieve something like a herd immunity you need usually a vaccination rate around the 70% mark.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Yes, and the UK is on course to achieve it and ahead of most countries including Japan. The percentage rate is equal to America.

Fully vaccinated can return to events like theatres and concerts.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Japan is allowing 150,000 people to enter the country for the Tokyo Games.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

People should have the right to determine for themselves what risk they are willing to take.

Whether it's theater in London , Olympics in Tokyo, or pro wrestling in America , if you are afraid, stay home, but we must not allow the insane paranoia infecting so many keep normal folks from enjoying their lives.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Andrew Lloyd Webber, married three times, all to women. 

If you buy those beards of his then I have a bridge to sell you.

No offense to Webber, I'm sure he's a great guy. He's also tired of the Great Reset.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I hope only vaccinated people are allowed to watch the play.

it is not indicated anywhere in the story.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

No offense to Webber, I'm sure he's a great guy. He's also tired of the Great Reset.

What are you talking about?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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